Henfield apologizes for “homophobic slur”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Senator Ranard Henfield yesterday apologized for using a “derogatory phrase” in response to someone who verbally attacked him and his mother on Facebook and said in the heat of the moment “I blew my top”.

“Over the weekend, a Facebook user launched a malicious attack on my page on a senior citizen,” Henfield said in a post on his Facebook page.

“The things he was telling that lady about under her skirt left her embarrassed, offended and disappointed.

“In an effort to deflect his anger to me, I engaged him.

“He went off on me as expected and discontinued his attack on her.

“It made a turn for the worst when he crossed the line again and said that he wants to get sexual with my mother.

“In that moment, I blew my top and used a derogatory phrase in response to him.

“It was an offensive phrase and I apologize for using it in response to what he said about my mother.

“Later that day I deleted the post not only because of what he said to the older lady and about my mom, but because of what I referred to him as.

“People are entitled to free speech. Sometimes they cross the line and our emotions kick in, especially if it’s about our mothers. Nonetheless, my response immediately after he said what he’d like to do to my mother was disrespectful.”

Henfield’s row with the Facebook user stemmed from a post on Saturday in which described a brawl he witnessed the night before at Little Caesar’s Pizza on Carmichael Road.

The senator claimed he saved several patrons after a “gang of men burst in stabbing and chopping”.

A woman, who claimed she also witnessed the fight, challenged his account of the events and suggested the senator was not the hero he claimed to be.

Another man, who said Henfield and other elder statesmen do not really care about Bahamians, but only “pretend” to, launched a series of insults loaded with profanity about the senator, and in one comment, his mother.

In response, Henfield said, “Lil fa**ots like you hide behind Facebook not realizing there’s a unit for cybercrime. Come at me and I’ll laugh. Cross the line and I am quick to notify the cybercrime unit and have SIB (Security and Intelligence Branch) track your IP address. I was keeping you engaged online long enough for them to trace you idiot. Thanks for running on. Laugh out loud.”

Henfield’s comment was later deleted, but human rights activist Erin Green reposted a screenshot of the remark on her Facebook page.

Speaking to Eyewitness News Tuesday, Green said while it was obviously a heated discourse where comments were made to provoke the senator, the use of “homophobic and sexist slurs, particularly if you are a public figure” was unacceptable.

“It’s unacceptable for anyone even given the expected or understandable anger in the moment,” she said.

“This is not acceptable speech from a member of the Upper [Chamber] of the House of Assembly, particularly after the Bahamas’ recent selection to the United Nations Human Rights Council…”

Green called on Henfield to make a public statement on the matter.

She also called on Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis to address what she said appears to be a culture of disregard for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) citizens and other vulnerable groups by leaders on both sides of the political divide.